The purpose of the paper is to present and comment on most vital concepts of ridiculousness (the comical) and laughter formulated in the period of the Polish Enlightenment. To some extent it also concerns opinions on this issue produced at that time abroad but known and quoted in Poland. Consideration is focused on the reflections that refer mainly to literature and deal with the mode the comical is understood, the possibilities and need of dividing it, also to those devoted to the function of laughter and accentuating the necessity of reasonable control over it. Ideas by, e.g. Michał Dudziński, Franciszek Bohomolec, Ignacy Krasicki, Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski, Euzebiusz Słowacki, Józef Franciszek Królikowski are recalled. The article shows the shift of attention in capturing the problem from the rhetoric and moral level to aesthetic one, and the continually more distinct process of including the category of the comical into the reflection over the aesthetic values of literature.
Pamiętnik Literacki 2 / 2021
Dedication to Professor Teresa Kostkiewiczowa
Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport from the Fund of Culture Promotion, of the subsidies set up in games included into the state monopoly, pursuant to art. 80, section 5, of the Act of November 19th, 2009, on games of chance.
In Rhetoric, Moral, and Aesthetic Perspective
Performing the Body in Piotr Kwiatkowski’s “Theatrum życia ludzkiego” (“Theatre of Human Life”)
The article is an attempt at interpreting “Theatrum życia ludzkiego” (“Theatre of Human Life”), an 18th century collection of exempla, didactic moral book of poems, written by a Polish Jesuit Piotr Kwiatkowski. He offers a radical vision of life, both as a theatre and as a trap. The presented world is constantly transforming and the people who inhabit it are subordinated to the inescapable drive for eternal damnation. Though Kwiatkowski eagerly employs poetic images referring to the dangers of nature and its elements, he is particularly disquieted by culture. The most dangerous trap, however, is the human body, perceived as a prison for the soul. Hence, nudity consistently evokes in the author associations with death. In “Theatre of Human Life” the boundary between life and death is fragile and penetrable, and man finds himself in a state of constant danger which lies in that which is the foundation of earthly identity—in his own body.
The authoress of the paper treats Ignacy Krasicki’s work “Mikołaja Doświadczyńskiego przypadki” (“Adventures of Nicolaus Doświadczyński,” 1776) as a borderline form between the romance and the epopee on the one hand, and the modern novel on the other hand. The borderline manifests itself in the various complications of the plot and narration, while its most vivid expressions are the mythical remains that allow to project the life of Nicolaus on the patterns developed by Odysseus (Telemachus), Robinson Crusoe, and Don Quixote. A discrete reference to the mythical makes it impossible to reduce the novel’s realism to formal realism (in Ian Watt’s view) and thus, as suggested by Tomasz Pokrzywniak, to mimetic imitation of historical reality, or to a biographic formula, as Teresa Kostkiewiczowa conceives of the problem. It can be assumed that the 18th c. reader received the novel’s myth indirectly, as a living truth.
The authoress also marks the shift of the research field in reference to the old novel; previously, the old novel was seen as an example of a realistic attack on literature, while today attention is paid to a widespread introduction of fictionality as a mode of telling the story (fictionality solidified by probability rules) that substitutes the convention of a regained authentic (a manuscript).
The paper is devoted to two collections of maxims contained in Ignacy Krasicki’s “Uwagi” (“Remarks”), namely to “Przestrogi, które Nabi Effendi synowi swemu zostawił” (“Warnings that Nabi Effendi Left to His Son”) and to “Myśli” (“Thoughts”). The authoress finds the sources from which Krasicki took the maxims (these are the pieces of classical Oriental literature, namely “Hayriye” by Yusuf Nabi and “Historia i mądrość” (“History and Wisdom”) by Ahikar of Assyria, she presents their concise history as well as their significance to European literature.
In Teresa Kostkiewiczowa’s probably most recognised book “Klasycyzm, sentymentalizm, rokoko” (“Classicism, Sentimentalism, Rococo”) playwriting is illustrated by a small number of examples that picture the shaping and qualitative changes in the functioning of the Polish Enlightened literature, while a theatrological view, namely the fortune of the classical, sentimental or rococo performances, is not the purpose. As a result, the author of the article attempts to pay attention to the playwriters whose pieces, on the one hand, were staged for Polish audience in capital theatre and in the province, and, on the other hand, to the playwriters themselves who until this day are seen as the representatives of the three main 18th c. literary-artistic trends. Such an approach allows to place new accents in the considerations about the usability of the terms that we employ when classifying the then theatrical production.
The author of the paper analyses the evidence for the appearance of the word émigré in the French language and the changes of its scope of meaning. Initially, this word referred to a person, mostly an aristocrat, who escaped from France in the times of the French Revolution. With time, the lexeme started to be used to name a person forced to leave their home country oppressed by a military and political force, a defender of freedom that represents various social strata. The change took place mainly as a result of the Polish experience of the end of the 18th century—the Kościuszko Uprising and partitions of Poland. The lexical perturbations were accompanied by a revision of the French people’s attitude towards Poland and Poles. The French attention was captured by weirdness of country system and geopolitical situation, but also by devotion, heroism, high ethics, and love for freedom. The direction of the changes is confirmed by the French novel writings of the times.
Princess Izabela Czartoryska in the Light of Theatre, Theatricalisation, and Media
The article discusses the theatre, acting, and educational activity of Izabela Czartoryska, née Flemming, the wife of Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski—a dramatist of the Enlightenment and a theorist. A panegyric dedicated to her on November 19th, 1765, during The National Theatre opening ceremony, made her the patroness of the Polish stage. As based on authoritative sources, the paper depicts her acting on stage, presence among the Polish and foreign theatre audience, planning of the programme, inspiration of dramatists, education of actors of School of Chivalry and of The National Theatre. The text also focuses of Izabela’s stage acting profile and traces her relation with the audience. In conclusion it is stated that all forms of Czartoryska’s early acting experience formed a basis for her creation in the family residence of Puławy a centre of national culture.
Fashion-Slaves and Male-Victims in Wojciech Bogusławski’s “Fashionable” Comedies
The paper refers to a small collection of Wojciech Bogusławski’s comedies devoted to manners fashion observable in the last 20 years of the 18th c. In “Ślub modny” (“A Fashionable Wedding,” 1780) he concentrates on free relationships, in “Mieszczki modne” (“Fashionable Townswomen,” 1780) he voices against the enriched middle class, while in “Spazmy modne” (“Fashionable Spasms,” 1797) he sketches a picture of a modern false front marriage that shadows indifference, betrayal, and the will to divorce. The author of the paper focuses on male-female relationships, especially on the problems of male domination and female role models promoted at that time. She also tries to answer the question whether and to what extent the “fashionable wives” portrayed in the comedies wish to release from the constrained dependence and freely decide about their own lives. She additionally pays attention to the feminism that arises in the Enlightenment, on the woman perspective that comes into view, and on the issue of objectivism of males’ writing about a woman.
The study presents the then fashionable among the society’s imagined illnesses of ladies and cavaliers, referred to as spasms and vapours, recorded in the works of the Polish Enlightened authors. Rich in affectation manifestations of the complaints were symptoms of upper classes representative’s lifestyle, and were seen as distinctive customary trait of the epoch and culture of that time. The author gives a succinct description of the modes, stamped with humour, irony or critical distance, of referring to the stylish symptoms found in the pieces composed at the times of Stanisław August Poniatowski and popularised by Wojciech Bogusławski’s comedy “Spazmy modne” (“Stylish spasms,” 1797). She traces the vitality of the motif in question in the 19th century literature, pointing at a continuation of traditional approaches and at the new artistic solutions that provide for transformation of the initial customary phenomenon into a common literary motif that serves to strengthen the theatricalisation of given scenes and exaggeration of protagonists’ behaviours. She also pays attention to the ways spasms are employed to the epic texts to accentuate the dramatic traits of persons’ internal portrait, and their emotional, psychological, and spiritual image.
Between the years 1809–1812 Jan Potocki exchanged letters with his niece Maria of the Rzewuski family who, at the time they started their correspondence, married Jarosław, the son of Józefina née Mniszech and Stanisław Szczęsny Potocki. Only Jan Potocki’s letters survived: they are well written, brilliant, absorbed both with book knowledge and life wisdom. The author of the sketch concentrates, however, not on their stylistic and content matter issues, but on the way the letters were handed over.
The Ukrainian ways were in poor condition, and the tzarist post far from functional. Thus, letters reached their addressees as delayed, and often did not reach them at all. In view of that, Potocki and the recipient of his letters did not use it and employed servants, Jewish friends, and members of closest family to deliver the correspondence. The two letter writers constantly informed one another when and who would deliver letters. They told in confidence about temporary problems with a person to do the delivery, etc., and this issue is well developed in the epistles, giving it additional attractiveness.
Final Analysis of the Present and Considerations about Universal Problems in the Costume of the Enlightenment (in the Polish 1956–1989 Literature)
The term “parable” in reference to the 20th century literature is ambiguous. It is used to name the pieces the plot of which generates or transfers a conventional code from tradition, referring to more general meanings, as well as to those in which “the hidden meaning of a ‘pseudohistorical’ piece is its real reference” (Anna Nasiłowska). In the Polish literature after the year 1956 referring to Enlightenment, the parabolic in the first meaning is characteristic of works that recall the tradition of the Western Enlightenment. In some pieces it is allowed to speak of two meanings. Entering into polemics with the utopian thinking of the Enlightenment, they simultaneously turn to its East-European realisations, thus also contain an element of update. However, if the piece’s structure plot is made exclusively of Polish history or literature, then associations with the present dominate. Yet, in works that invoke Polish history as well as in those that offer a rather mental aspect of the Age of Reason, dark colours prevail. Authors who in those times looked for points of reference for present problems, instead of the Age of Enlightenment presented rather a picture of the Age of Darkness—the gloom of human soul and equally gloomy figments of human mind in the social and political dimension.
A recurrent problem in academic discussions is whether Polish studies are sufficiently global. It often appears that they are not. That they lack globality. The next question posed concerns their prospects. The paper is an attempt to give an answer to a more detailed issue, namely which global prospects Polish studies will face in the future, considering the fact that the discipline is, on the one hand, a special discipline – the national philology, and, on the other hand, the discipline that in the light of Polish Higher Education Reforms: Ustawa 2.0 (Law 2.0) is not a discipline. The author tries to problematise the notions of perspective and globality in reference to Polish studies as well as, in this context, to investigate the case of the humanities of protest that he analyses as based on the Hong Kong 2019 manifestations. The author is of the opinion that the waves of demonstrations staged on the Polish streets after completing the present paper gives the study new meanings: closer and more actual.
In this essay the term “worldview” is understood, according to German tradition, both as a Weltbild, or ‘world picture,’ and Lebensanschauung, or ‘outlook on life’. The article describes the analogies between generic worldview and linguistic worldview, taking into account their two properties, namely formal conservatism, and selectivity. Subsequently, genres whose worldviews expand beyond the level of linguistic expressibility are discussed on the example of the idyll and litany, i.e. poetic conventions which inspired their own painting and musical traditions. The article concludes with considerations on the sonnet as a convention that, nowadays, is regarded as emblematic for the lack of ideological commitment. However, as the author of the paper argues, in the initial period, the sonnet might have also been equipped with its own generic worldview.
“U źródeł nurtu narodowego w muzyce polskiej” (“Sources of the National Trend in the Polish Music”) was published in the year 1990 by Lucjan Cieślak, a musicologist of the city of Łódź. This collection of political poems of the Era of Stanisław August Poniatowski performed to given melodies remained unnoticed by literary historians. Because in Cieślak’s work texts (130) and melodies (41) form separate groups, it was advisable, for literary research, to match texts to melodies. In effect, the most lyrics (14) were linked to the melody of a song of Bar Confederates “Do Ciebie, Panie, pokornie wołamy…” (“We Humbly Cry to You, Lord…”). 7 of them are contrafacta of the song of Bar Confederates, and 7 are to be considered as versions of other contrafacta made to this melody. We identify 6 poems by their authors who were Antoni Hoffman, Antoni Sosenkiewicz, Franciszek Dionizy Kniaźnin, Franciszek Jaksa Makulski (one poem each), and two poems by Ignacy Krasicki, namely “Pieśń na dzień 3 maja” (“Song for the 3rd of May”) and “Do Boga” (“Do Ciebie, Panie, wznosiem nasze prośby…”) (“To Lord <To You, Lord, We Raise Our Pleas…>”), which, until Cieślak’s publication, were regarded only as poems. All 14 songs are classified and provisionally described in the paper.
On the Polish Translations of Montesquieu’s “Le Temple de Gnide” (“The Temple of Gnidos”) in the 18th Century
This article traces the (mis)fortunes of the Polish translations of Montesquieu’s “Le Temple de Gnide” (“The Temple of Gnidos”), analysed as a translational series in a comparative framework. This prose poem, now somewhat forgotten, in the 18th century was considerably popular with readers, publishers and translators. Its various editions and translations published throughout Europe outnumbered those of any other work by Montesquieu. A bibliographical analysis of this poem’s translations published in various languages and often forming translational series demonstrates how these (re)translations fitted into the broader literary dynamics of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Back then, both original texts and their translations were seen as a “shared property” of the translators, publishers, and writers who made various “improvements” to cater for aesthetic tastes and ensure financial gains. This was also true of the two 18th-century Polish translations of the poem. Comparing them with the source text sheds some light on their publishers and the textual basis.
An analysis of English, French, and German translations of Konstytucja 3 Maja (The Constitution of 3 May, 1791), done in the year 1791, is made subject of the article. The authoress of the study attempts to trace the history of the translations: when they were published, who their authors were, what the circumstances that accompanied their productions were, and how great their extent was. Additionally, she tries to examine the translator’s purposes and the ways they strived to accomplish them. This task is linked to an analysis of the translations themselves, their faithfulness to the original, and also with the policy the translators adopted, their attitude to the original, ability to express the Polish content in a foreign language, as well as the with modes of adjusting the discourse to the target receivers’ political language.
New Facts in the Dispute over Michał Dymitr Krajewski’s “Podolanka wychowana w stanie natury” (“Podolanka Brought up in Natural State”)
The paper is devoted to “List Sandomierzanki do Podolanki w stanie natury wychowanej” (“Letter of Sandomierzanka to Podolanka Brought up in Natural State,” 1784), a critical text that belongs to one of the most crucial literary polemics of the Polish Enlightenment. The review of Michał Dymitr Krajewski’s novel, whose authorship is contestable, touched such issues as a definition of the state of nature, or an evaluation of the genre of the novel and literary achievement of the epoch. The discovery at the Manuscripts Department, Vilnius University, allowed to formulate a new argument for assigning “Letter of Sandomierzanka” to Filip Neriusz Golański. Additionally, the article analyses the theses about the authorship of the text in question to this day and presents argumentation that provides for settling the problem. In the next step, it examines the core problem, namely it compares the creativity of Ignacy Krasicki and of Adam Naruszewicz, and ultimately juxtaposes Sandomierzanka’s theses with Golański’s papers known to date.
The article attempts to picture a literary image of Barbara Kossowska, née Bielińska, a lady of the times of Stanisław August Poniatowski, famous for her beauty. The heroine of the study was largely recalled as an addressee of the poem “Do Kossowskiej w tańcu” (“To Kossowska in Her Dance”) that raised researchers’ interest mainly due to the author’s attribution. Regardless of it, she was referred to because of her husband, Roch Kossowski, a grand royal undertreasurer. The authoress of the article depicts the many incarnations of Barbara Kossowska shaped by panegyrists and lampoon writers.
An Italian Promoter of Polish Science and Literature
Giovanni Maver, the most outstanding Italian researcher in Polish Studies, is a meritorious figure for the development of the 20th century Polish scientific and cultural relations with Italy. He is known first and foremost as the author of numerous studies, as a scholar, Head of the Chair for Polish Language and Literature, the University of Rome, and also as a collaborator with many Polish academic and cultural institutions in Italy and in Poland. This collaboration is made the subject of the present paper. Roman Pollak, an illustrious literary historian and Maver’s long-time friend, proved to have had greatest contribution in acquiring him for the Polish Studies. The article also touches their private contacts, cooperation, and bonds that lasted until the end of Maver’s life.
An Archive Paradox
In recent years, the term “archive” in academic discussions has drifted away from its basic meaning (a place of acquiring, segregating, selecting, and cataloguing collections in a given socio-political and cultural space) to adopt the function of a conceptually attractive metaphor—a figure of political discourse, an institution of power, or memory. The changes (archive turn) are followed by some other ones caused by invasion of virtual world into the archive space (digitalisation) between the researcher and the source. Such transformations not only impose redefining the notions such as text transmission which are fundamental for the critical and historical research, but also call for the role of their materiality (material versus virtual transmission). In addition to that, it is argued whether digital repositories can replace the traditionally understood archives, which impact and effect they may have on the researcher when it comes to the replacement of the classical contact with the source with the digital medium (acceleration of the work, fragmentarisation), how they change the way of thinking about the research subject, how they influence the extensive analysis of the research material and, in consequence, broader phenomena and cultural process, including literary ones. The extent to which a researcher relies on printed transmissions affects the perception of literary phenomena and formation of canons is a separate issue in the paper.